As I put fingers to keyboard for this month’s op-ed installment for the Briefcase my fingers instinctively went to the keys N-B-A-r-e-f-s. I pulled back, aghast at the social media hack that I was transforming into. Was it the Facebook/Amazon algorithms or all the fake news that was affecting me? No must be Russian interference then. I mean seriously these guys get paid for that. So, I move on to a more pressing question, why don’t more Oklahoma County lawyers join the OCBA. Maybe they don’t know what they are missing, I pondered: great social events like bowling, chili cook offs and golf; excellent CLE and opportunities to meet other lawyers and judges; giving back to the community; bypassing security line at the courthouse, access to nonstop elevator, being mentored, mentoring and just plain fun times with their peers. Seems like when I was a young lawyer everyone joined. So here are some short attorney profiles of other lawyers who belong to the OCBA. Maybe something here will ring true to you. Share this with an attorney friend who is not a member. If you aren’t a member, contact the OCBA office and join.
Special Judge for the District Court of Oklahoma County, Geary L. Walke (he got me into this writing mess):
1. Product of Del City. 25 years pretending to be a trial lawyer. 17 years as the lowest judge on the totem pole.
2. I joined OCBA after being sworn in, hoping it would help establish my bona fides with the public. After about 15 or 20 years I was personally invited by (then Director) Bobby Knapp to be on a committee. I met some wonderful lawyers with passions for being good lawyers. I wanted to be like them.
3. I knew if I was able to imitate those really good lawyers with more experience, more knowledge and better paying clients, I could eventually improve my lot.
4. I’ve learned to love the OCBA monthly newspaper: The Briefcase. I love the “non-legal” things that lawyers write about: ethics, business and socializing. Lawyers are always interesting if you don’t have to rebut what they say.
5. Never stop reaching out. Invite a friend to an event, a luncheon, a CLE or to work on a committee. As Montagne said (paraphrasing from a Biblical passage): The only way to have a friend is to be a friend.
Special Judge and President Elect of the OCBA, Sheila Stinson (I work for her):
A wife, mom, friend and judge, proud native of Boise City, a loyal alum of UCO and OU Law. Former civil litigator and business owner. In July 2017, I was sworn in as a special judge in Oklahoma County.
How got involved
My father-in-law, David Stinson, refers to people like me as “joiners”. I was born into a family of joiners. My parents have been Rotarians most my life. In law school, I found a fellow joiner in Celeste Johnson. After we both graduated law school, she was told she needed to go to a meeting at a place called the Oklahoma County Bar Association to meet other young lawyers, so she called to see if I’d go with her. That meeting was the OCBA Young Lawyers Division Board of Directors. We joined. We stayed.
Why stayed/ involved
Through the YLD Board, I discovered and then joined some other committees such as the Bench and Bar Committee, the Work/Life Balance Committee and the Social Committee. After serving on the YLD Board for 4-5 years, the nominating committee asked if I would serve as the Law Library Trustee. Some say one way to get people to stay in an organization is to ask them to do something. It worked. I was asked to serve on the Law Library Board and absolutely loved my time on it.
Project I’m passionate about
I enjoy so many of the OCBA’s events and projects, but the one activity I never miss is the Bench and Bar Conference. In addition to some great CLE and scenic views, the conference is always a great weekend to meet new friends, spend time with old friends and interact with other practitioners and members of the judiciary.
What benefit for new members
I passionately believe that our association’s purpose is to serve its members. Through that purpose, the association helps those members to serve their clients and their community. I am a member because it has changed my career and my life. For an attorney who wanted to meet other attorneys and judges and find a way to volunteer in our community, the OCBA was a perfect fit for me and it hopefully is for new members as well.
Attorney, Robert Sheets (this guy is Voices for Children):
1. Born and raised in St. Louis, Missouri, he makes his home in Northwest Oklahoma City, with his wife and children. In his free time, he enjoys being with his family, attending baseball games, traveling and volunteering at his church. A Firm founder of Phillips Murrah law firm, he is a Director in the Commercial Litigation Practice Group. He received the Outstanding Law Review Alumni Award from Oklahoma City University School of Law in 2007, The Journal Record’s Leadership in Law Award in 2008 and The Alma Wilson Award from the Oklahoma Bar Association in 2011.
2. I joined as a young lawyer so I could get to know the lawyers in the Oklahoma County area. I went to OCU law, but I was from St. Louis and I thought it was necessary to know who my fellow bar members were.
3. I enjoyed the chance to meet the attorneys. Also, there were service opportunities, like participating in law day and chairing the Voices of Children committee which runs the reading buddies that read to pre-school children ounce a month at Lee Elementary School and the Carver Mark Twain Head Start. Just reading to preschool age children helps them with language and makes them want to read which will help them throughout their lives.
4. Community service. The law has been very good to me and the least I can do is give back some of my time to the community.
5. OCBA membership can give you recognition in the legal community. I receive many referrals of clients from lawyers I know. I credit OCBA for helping me to get to know my fellow attorneys, since I was an outsider 40 years ago. Knowing you fellow attorneys can help in many ways. We are in an adversarial business. Just knowing your opposing attorney can keep the relationship civil.
Byline: Michael W. Brewer is an attorney, founder, and partner of Hiltgen & Brewer, PC in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. To contact Mike, email email@example.com, call (405) 605-9000 or tweet him at @attymikeb. For more information, please visit http://www.hbokc.law.